S1: This ad free podcast is part of your Slate plus membership. This podcast contains explicit language.
S2: Welcome to Hit Parade, a podcast of pop chart history from Slate magazine about the hits from coast to coast. I’m Chris M.A., chart analyst, pop critic and writer of Slate’s Why is This Song number one series?
S3: On today’s show 20 years ago, in the spring of 2000, a pair of rappers from Atlanta, Georgia, were in the studio putting the finishing touches on an album that would change the trajectory of their career and arguably their hometown. It would turn outcast from leading figures in southern hip hop to one of the biggest pop acts in American. They would call the album released in the fall of 2000. STANKONIA And it would change the game selling more copies than almost any Atlanta rap album that came before it. But it was not their first album as Outcaste would take pains to tell their new fans later. And it was not a tepid or middle of the road album. Antwan, Big Boy Payton and Andre Benjamin, a.k.a. Andre 3000, made the mainstream come to them, not the other way around.
S2: Outcaste helped change not just the sound, but the breath of hip hop, including geographically rap. In the 90s was infamously undergoing a coastal war between the east and the West. The very idea that Atlanta by the 21st century would become, according to The New York Times, hip hop’s center of gravity was one Andre and Big Boy began envisioning from the start of their.
S4: And if you’d like to see it, perhaps it is a great day.
S3: Of course, Outcaste were not the first chart topping act to come from the ATF. Atlanta have been producing vital music for decades. And in fact, Outcaste broke on an Atlanta label better known in the early 90s for its urban pop.
S2: Indeed, the hip hop that came out of Atlanta before Outcast was closer to pure pop than rap. But Outcaste had a more expansive vision. They saw that hip hop could be everything in music.
S3: A melting pot of Stiehm, the musical universe that Outcaste spawned, would generate later spin off acts in the world of pop. And would firmly establish Atlanta as a rap scene thriving to this day for multiple purposes. But perhaps the most improbable thing about Outcaste was that for a few years in the early 2000s, they were also hot, 100 topping pop stars, America’s tastemakers, the arbiters of what was cool and what’s cooler than being cool.
S2: Outcasts chart and cultural success was so enormous. They even won a very rare Grammy Award. The last rappers to do so. And this win effectively brought about outcasts, self-imposed demise. Just last month, I told you about Billy Joel, a Grammy winning mega star who topped the charts and then hung it up while at the top of his game.
S3: Well, let’s just say that Joel, Andre and Big Boy have something in common.
S5: Thank you, guys.
S2: Today on Hit Parade, we will not only talk about how Outcaste moved rap permanently south, but how they expanded its sonic boundaries, affirming that hip hop would be the lingua franca of 21st century pop. Even when Andre 3000 wasn’t actually rapping, and even when the two members of Outcast were trading places at the top of the charts. And that’s where your hit parade marches today. The week ending February 14th, 2004, when Outcast replaced themselves at number one on the hot 100. The big boy fronted The Way You Move replaced the Andre powered. Hey ya. A top Billboard’s flagship chart. And it all happened the same week. They were the toast of the Grammys.
S3: It was the culmination of a ride Outcaste had begun a decade earlier. But for the partnership of Big Boy and Dre, it was the beginning of the end to be free again with the.
S6: Three months ago in our Whitney Houston episode of Hit Parade, we played you a snippet of a 1989 awards show, the Soul Train Music Awards, where Houston coming off of her pop chart peak was actually booed by the audience just for being nominated. This moment disappointed, but also galvanized Houston, leading to a career comeback, particularly with black audiences, and brought about some of her biggest chart successes. Well, maybe getting raspberries on an awards show celebrating black culture is good luck in disguise, because in 1995, it also happened to outcaste only. Unlike Whitney Houston outcasts, searing awards show experience happened near the start of their career. And unlike Houston, Outcaste were not only nominated.
S7: They actually won the prize and the winner had.
S8: Indeed, that was why they weren’t out boot.
S6: The win came at the 1995 Sourse Awards and Outcaste were essentially collateral damage in a rap world beef. They had nothing to do with. We’ll talk about why in a few minutes. But first, I should explain how Outcaste were nominated for that award in the first place. Andre and Big Boy were accepting the prize in New York, but they were from a city that until quite recently wasn’t much known for rap at all.
S2: That’s Hot Lanta, an instrumental jam from the Allman Brothers Band’s 1971 live album at Fillmore East. The Osmonds were not from Atlanta. The group formed in Jacksonville, Florida.
S3: But this track helped popularize and institutionalize the hot lanta nickname and indeed the idea of Atlanta as a capital of music for much of the 20th century. Atlanta was a major center for country music by the 70s and 80s. It played host to a variety of sounds from R and B groups like the S.O.S band.
S2: Two folk rockers like The Indigo.
S3: But what began to transform Atlanta into a hit factory was a team we talked about, you know, Whitney Houston episode, the singing, songwriting and production duo of Antonio L. A. Reid and Kenneth Babyface Edmonds and. Though L.A. and baby face were both born in different parts of the Midwest. Once they settled in Atlanta and began writing and recording together in the late 80s, they became the premiere purveyors of Crossover R and B hits that worked equally well on pop and black radio. In addition to their own records, both as the group The Deal and in Baby Faces solo career, L.A. and Babyface were responsible for most of the hits on Bobby Brown’s breakthrough smash. Don’t Be. David, much the way Motown in the 60s translated rhythm and blues for a wider, more mainstream audience. The L.A. baby face hit factory made hip hop and new jack swing more viable for pop audiences.
S6: So it made sense that Reed and Edmonds would form their own Motown like label. They called it love face records. And by the turn of the 90s, Reed and Babyface were generating smashes with a range of rising stars.
S3: These included the Oakland born Atlanta based Perry Reed, a.k.a. Pebble’s, who was then married to L.. A. Reed in a true love face family affair. Reed even sang backup on some of Pebble’s most propulsive hits. It was Pebble’s who discovered the trio that would wind up being the faces biggest seller of the decade. The three woman hip hop needs pop group TLC.
S2: What made TLC not only a smash when they launched in 1992, but the quintessential act of love face records was their blend of sultry R and B, with just a dash of wrapping delivered ably by the group’s own M.C. Lisa Left Eye Lopez.
S3: Again, Love Face was not a rap label. It was a rap conversant label. No one at the time would expect Reid and Babyface, the two smoothest guys in Atlanta music. To focus on hard core rap. Moreover, Atlanta itself at the turn of the 90s was not really known as a hotbed of hip hop at the time. Southern rap was more tied to cities like Houston, Texas, home of the ghetto boards, than it feels to be against gangster feed the poor and helping with the. Or the underground kings, better known as UGC or the city of Miami, which had developed its own Southern Hip-Hop subgenre called Miami Base Music.
S6: The bodacious style was first turned into platinum in the late 80s by the unabashedly lewd rap troupe. The two live crew, a lightning rod for criticism and censorship of rap, be missed by the early 90s.
S3: The Miami based sound was crossing over on the pop charts in 1993. Two competing singles with nearly identical titles went head to head on the Hot 100, both with Miami based style production, even though neither rap troupe was actually from Miami. From Jacksonville came 95 South with Hoot. There it is.
S2: And they were followed just weeks later by the duo tag team who offered whom. There it is.
S3: As you 90s chart, nerds out there probably remember, tag team whomped their competition, woop, there it is, reached number two on the hot 100 versus a number eleven peak for ninety five SCC. Interestingly, tag team were also from Atlanta, which made them one of the best selling rap acts from the 80s. Well, at the time, even though they’re one big pop friendly hit. Sounded more like Miami. Indeed, this was the situation with Atlanta rap to that date. It was hard to pin down to a sound and less focused on street cred than on irresistible pop crooks. Discovered in an Atlanta mall by producer Jermaine Dupri. Criss cross a pair of 13 year old rappers who wore their clothing backwards, topped the charts with their infectious Jackson five sampling pop rap smash Jump. Their album, totally crossed out, went quadruple platinum. Not long after Criss crossed a different flavor of pop friendly Atlanta rap also went multi platinum.
S2: Arrested Development, whom we discussed in detail in our early 90s rap episode of Hit Parade, revelled in their southern heritage on songs like Tennessee and People Every Day. Founded in Atlanta, A.D. scored a string of hits from their socially conscious and critically acclaimed album Three Years, Five Months and Two Days in the Life of which by 1993 was trippy.
S3: As stellar as these sales feats were by these Atlanta based rap troupes by 1993. It was hard to say that criss crossed tag team and Arrested Development constituted a scene. Sonically, the acts had little in common, and their Atlanta heritage was largely a coincidence.
S6: It is therefore either ironic or appropriate that the rap duo who would permanently change perceptions of the A.l, made their debut on a remix of a pop record from L.A. and Baby Faces Look Face Records.
S3: What about your friends? Was the third straight top 10 hit from Tea Elsie’s colorful debut? Who on the TLC tip? Written by Atlanta based producer Dallas, Austin and TLC, whose own rapper left I. What about your friends? Was essentially New Jack Swing that bordered on the edge of rap. So to boost its hip hop, KRED La Face ordered up a remix of the track. And that remix included the latest signees to the Love Face roster. The label’s first ever rap act.
S2: Outcast first audition for L.A. Reid in 1992. The two young men, Antoine Payton and Andre Benjamin, were only 17 at the time. They had met as 16 year olds hanging out at an Atlanta mall. They chose the name Outcast after learning that their preferred moniker, Misfits, was already taken by a punk band. When they auditioned for Reed, the mobile later recalled, Antoine and Andre were so nervous they couldn’t look hands in off.
S3: By his own admission, L.A. Reid, quote, didn’t really know anything about rap, he said in his memoir years later. But he was charmed and impressed by outcasts, personality and Flo Andre.
S6: In particular, wasn’t a booleans dazzling rapper able to deliver a triple time cadence in later interviews. Andre admitted he had been picking up some of his technique, listening to New York based emcees like A Tribe Called Quest and the then hot tongue twisting rap troupe.
S9: Das Effect’s two. Buckle up. Yeah, but do anybody who practicals a trick to do?
S3: After their debut on the TLC Remax Love Face sent Outcast into the studio in 1993, but not to record a full album yet.
S6: Reed felt the duo needed time to develop their persona and their, quote, sex appeal.
S2: So just for starters, Reid had them record a single for wait for it on the Face Christmas album.
S5: Like every step, I think there’s no way they can win that way.
S3: Maybe we should call players ball. The die hard of debuts an action story that’s secretly also a Christmas story recorded for the compilation A La Faced Family Christmas Outcasts Debut Single. A seemingly on trend gangsta rap joint is about the holiday season, something that’s easy to miss if you don’t listen closely to its lyrics.
S5: I made it. They can go.
S3: Nominally, the festive occasion that Andre and Big Boy are rapping about is an annual gathering of pimps made famous in cities like Chicago and Atlanta called A Player’s Ball. But in the verses of the song, Big Boy refers to eggnog and drops a bar of the Hallelujah chorus. And Dre makes lyrical allusions to such holiday chestnuts as Deck the Halls. It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas and Silent Night. The backing track even features sleigh bells. The chorus of players ball was sung by outcasts buddy Patrick Brown, a.k.a. Sleepy Brown of the Atlanta production troupe Organized Noise. And in its original version, the chorus closes with the line. The player’s ball is happening on Christmas Day.
S6: Released for the holidays in 1993, a live face Family Christmas was basically a lark for the label and not a big hit, despite including more overtly jolly material like TLC as Sleigh Ride and Toni Braxton’s The Christmas Song. The compilation peaked at number 186 on the Billboard album chart. But L.A. Reid realized the outcaste track could outlive the family Christmas project. So Reid approved a subtle rerecording of the Chorus of Player’s Ball in which sleepy Brown swapped out the line. The player’s ball is happening on Christmas Day for the new kicker.
S2: The player’s ball is happening all day, every day.
S3: Issued as a single in the winter of 1994. This version of Player’s Ball proved to be outcasts, breakthrough and a sleeper hit. It debuted on both the R and B chart and the Hot 100 in February of 1994 and steadily climbed the charts, peaking in May at number 12 R and B, number 37 pop an actual top 40 hit, as well as hitting number one on billboards, hot rap singles.
S4: Try assisting the songs.
S3: Climb was its music video shot in and around Atlanta with Dre and Big Boy dressed in Atlanta Braves gear.
S6: In a move that would prove prophetically ironic, the video was directed by Sean Combs, the young New York producer and budding mogul, then known as Puff Daddy, a major player in the forthcoming East Coast West Coast rap feud that would affect outcast at the Source Awards. Puffy was at that time just launching his bad boy label and the career of his first major signing Brooklyn rapper Biggie Smalls, a.k.a. the Notorious B.
S5: I used to play Woodstock to Outcast would later open concerts for Biggie.
S3: This tenuous arm’s length connection between gangsta rap and outcast would persist. As Andre and Big Boy recorded their debut album with the organized noise production team in a basement recording studio known as The Dungeon are coming around, this time within the music.
S2: Andre Big Boy and Organized Noise, recorded for the album, did make timely nods to low rider and G Funk culture. But its lyrical perspective and musical motifs, much of the music played on live instruments, took a deliberately southern point of view. In a clear signal of their regional pride, Outcaste called the album All One Word Southern Play a listed Cadillac names like You Get Right Away like that one and only Southern Play is listed as it is now often called for. Short is still regarded as a landmark, the first Atlanta rap album to go toe to toe with the titans of East and West Coast rap. Pitchfork hip hop critic Jeff Weiss would later call it, quote, the template for every Dirty South rap album with aspirations of being soulful, unquote. In May 1994, the album landed on the Billboard album chart at an auspicious number 20, debuting right between albums by Salt and Pepper and Snoop Doggy Dogg. Southern Play List at Cadillac Music Road. The album chart for half a year.
S3: And it spun off hits that made the R and B and rap singles charts. These included the album’s title track, a number nine rap hit that just missed the R and B, Top 40. And Get up, get out a number 13 rap number 59 R and B hit. That was important mostly for who else was on it. Thomas DeCarlo Calloway, better known as Cee Lo Green and Cameron Gipp, a.k.a. Big Hip, were founding members of Goodie Mob and Atlanta hip hop group that had formed in 1991. Outcasts. Get Up, Get Out was the first single to feature these goodie mob members, including a long showcase for the mellifluous rapping of Cee Lo, who later proved an equally adept singer, by the way. If you are a Macy Gray fan and this song sounds vaguely familiar to you, that’s because five years later Macy remade it as Do Something on her own debut album on How Life Is. Together, Outcast and Goodie Mob formed a loose Atlanta collective who called themselves the Dungeon Family, named after the basement studio of organized noise producer Rico wayI tawdry broke me, but the devil made me do it exactly the way these producers and rappers were, in essence, world building, creating a true Atlanta hip hop scene essentially from scratch.
S6: One year after their cameo on Southern playlists, Nick Goodie Mob would release an album of their own, produced, of course, by organized noise called Soul Food.
S3: By late 94 and 95 in the Dungeon, Family Collective was in enough demand that they began producing four acts outside of their immediate orbit. LA Face Records invited organized noise to write and produce one track on TLC.
S6: His second album, Crazy, Sexy Cool, including backing vocals from Cee Lo Green. I’ll bet you’re familiar with that track.
S3: TLC is Blockbuster 1995 Song of the Summer Waterfall’s. It was during that same summer while Waterfall’s was spending seven weeks at number one on the hot 100, that Andre and Big Boy from Outcast traveled to New York for the aforementioned 1995 Source Awards.
S6: And this was the situation Outcaste had put Atlanta hip hop on the map. Indeed, Southern Play lipstick had eventually gone platinum. About a year after the album’s release, as impressive as this was, Atlanta hip hop was still a sideshow, an undercard to the main event at the Source Awards.
S3: The brewing brawl between East Coast and West Coast.
S5: Rap on the outside.
S2: Back. I can not possibly do justice within the span of this podcast episode to the drama and the law of this coastal cultural war that shaped hip hop for a generation. In fact, we at Slate devoted an entire podcast season to this, the third season of Slover, hosted by my esteemed colleague Joel Anderson, about the events that led to the murders of Tupac Shakur and the notorious B.i.g..
S3: I highly recommend that slow burn cycle if you haven’t listened to it as yet, to make a very long story short for our purposes, Visa V, this outcaste story.
S6: It was at the 95 Source Awards that the East West feud came to a head. Perhaps the most important figure in West Coast rap was not even there.
S3: Tupac, who at that moment was locked in a jail cell even under lockdown. Poch was all over the charts that summer with tracks from his latest multi platinum album, Me Against Global Sales Sales Limits to Ben Rhodes. However, as dominant as West Coast rap was at that moment, the awards were being held in New York City, the birthplace of rap, at a moment when East Coast hip hop was making a serious comeback in the form of such Titanic figures as NAS and the notorious B.i.g. 40 to be at the 95 Source Awards. The most fiery, most important performances didn’t come in the form of rap bars. They were the acceptance speeches. Biggie’s producer, Sean Puff Daddy Combs, was the target of the most infamous speech at the show delivered by West Coast rap mogul.
S6: Should night in the space of one 30 second speech, Shug managed to both invite Tupac to join his death row records label and directed a thinly veiled diss at Puffy for stealing the spotlight from the artists on his bad boy label like Poupart People Gaga.
S10: Why would anyone out there want to be armed and want to fear for their war will have to worry about the very proud to be all in the video, all on the record.
S3: There are tensions were running so high throughout the night, with the New York audience repeatedly booing the West Coasters that even the normally mild mannered Snoop Dogg felt aggrieved enough to complain live on the mike.
S11: You got to laugh with Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg.
S2: And yet again, none of this had anything to do with Andre Benjamin and Antoine Payton.
S6: Dre and Big Boy were in the audience patiently waiting for outcasts category best new rap group to be called. But when Southern Raps leading duo actually won the prize. That’s when the New York crowd unleashed more of the same Bronx cheers. They had been throwing at the California contender win.
S12: It was at that moment that outcasts Andre Benjamin gave perhaps the most enlightened speech of the evening, taking raspberries and making raspberry lemonade. Like Snoop Dogg. Dre was more than a little aggrieved. Amid all the New York booing. But as he wrapped up his short speech, Andre unwittingly but somehow knowingly summed up the entire future of rap.
S8: In just six words, I got a demo tape here, but I didn’t. On the side of all I got say for Southern rappers.
S6: It was the shot heard round the world. Andre’s line. The S got something to say remains one of the most prophetic sentences in any award show acceptance speech. Future Atlanta rap titans would attest to how vital Andre’s speech was. Including killer Mike Ludacris. And in this clip from a VH one documentary, Atlanta’s Own Teen Outcast.
S8: Period. Period. That was the first time that people began to take it seriously, even if the 95 Source Awards had never happened.
S3: Outcaste now had the wind at their backs.
S6: They went into their second album, Emboldened Given Greater Freedom and a Bigger Budget by LA Face Records. And during the recording, Andre and Big Boy changed their game, abandoning 90s gangsta rap aesthetics almost entirely. They grew out their hair, particularly Dre, who gave up his cornrows and would on occasion wear a turban. Dre went vegan and sober and even briefly tried celibacy. For his part, Big Boy became a father, which he later said made him more grounded as an artist. When Outcaste came back in 1996, there stylistic certitude produced a record that would redefine Atlanta rap as space here.
S13: Cool. My. But the show a couple years ago and start the on elevators.
S3: Me and you outcaste made the cutting edge main stream band with its languid beat built by outcasts themselves completely free of samples and its spacey rapping elevators, firmly distinguished Dre and Big Boy from either East Coast or West Coast rap. Among those who were confounded by elevators was Le Face Records President L.A. Reid, who didn’t think it made sense as a single outcast, had to push for it. They took it to a radio station themselves against the label’s wishes. And they were vindicated when, despite its quirkiness, elevators proved to be a sizable hit. It peaked at number one on the rap singles chart. Number five at RB and even number 12 on the Hot 100. In the summer of 1996, L.A. Reid never doubted outcast instincts again, according to Big Boy. He let them choose their singles from then on elevators led off outcasts. Sophomore album, whose title was even Stranger than Southern playlist. A Cadillac music. They spelled it.
S6: E. T. L. I. E. N. S. A portmanteau of aliens. And the three letter code for Atlanta pronounced eighty aliens. The album’s title, Andre told the L.A. Times, was inspired by, quote, our status in the hip game.
S3: They were raps alien.
S5: Second, the divide we’re getting. Nobody had an opinion that way just when it comes to food.
S3: And in the bowl, the band 80 Aliens was a smash on impact, debuting at number two on the Billboard 200 album chart in September 1996 and going platinum out of the box. It would later be certified double platinum. The album was a savvy mix of species, sonics, fierce rapping and even elements of what was coming to be known as neo soul, particularly on the album’s third single, Jazzy Bell, which was remixed in early 97. To add soulful backing vocals by Love Face co-founder Kenneth Babyface Edmonds. Outcaste went even deeper into this orand Be Sound on a stopgap single from the soundtrack to the 1997 movie Soul Food. The song. In Due Time featured some of the earliest singing by Goodie Mob rapper Cee Lo Green, who provided the song’s melodic hook alongside drays and big boys rapping. Singing When it you going to the success of Outcaste was only burnishing the face records and Atlanta in general as the red hot center of black music in the 90s. At the same moment that Dre and Big Boy were defining Atlanta hip hop, a new generation of R&D singers, many on long face, were taking over the pop charts in the late 90’s, including then teenagers Usher and Monica. Meanwhile, Outcaste were getting freakier. They returned in 1998 with the album A Cremini, another portmanteau title this time.
S6: Of the two performers, Zodiac signs Aquarius for Big Boy and Gemini for Andre. And on a question, I’s first single. Rosa Parks, named cryptically after the civil rights legend Outcaste, went country blending hip hop with a hoedown.
S2: Rosa Parks was prophetic for Outcast in a number of ways. For starters, it foreshadowed their increasingly fearless absorption of other musical genres into hip hop. Witness the harmonica break down in the middle of the song, which, by the way, was played by Andre’s stepfather, Pastor Robert Hota. For another thing, and more negatively, the song cast a legal shadow over Outcast. For years, the actual still living Rosa Parks sued the duo and their label for defamation. Confused by the songs invoking of her name and distraught by its language, the case was finally settled in the mid 2000s. Just six months before Parks’s death. But perhaps most importantly, this acclaimed single also revealed Outcast to be the melding of two distinct personalities big boys, streetwise, dropping a vase melded with Andre’s Afro futurist freakiness. The video for Rosa Parks makes this plane in the opening seconds. Dre and Big Boy trade ideas for the clip. Big boy saying it should be full of cars and pimps. Andre saying it should be spacy with futuristic type things to which big boy replies. All right, then. Let’s do both of them. None of the singles from acquirement, I was a big chart hit.
S3: Rosa Parks missed the pop top 40 and barely scraped the R&D B top 20. In general, the album was almost too cutting edge, even for hip hop at the time. But a question I remains one of outcasts, most acclaimed LP is both the album and its lead single made the year end top 10 of the Village Voices, Paths and Job Critics’ poll. A first for them. And despite its lack of big hits, a question. I was a best seller anyway. It debuted at number two on the album chart, matching its predecessor. Eighty Aliens. And it was platinum within a month, double platinum by the following summer. It wrote the album chart for 10 months, longer than any Outcast album to date.
S6: Just three albums into their career. Andre and Big Boy were fulfilling their role as the avatars of Southern Hip-Hop. And already self mythologizing equipment is final track. Chunky Fire included a sample of Andre’s now already immortal 1995 source awards speak like stone and bones.
S14: Sounds like you got a demo tape by the one here.
S3: But it didn’t sound. Now some say it has only got like. The South did indeed have something to say. By now, the takeover of Southern rap was in full effect and it had spread to other cities. New Orleans rapper Master P built a chart topping empire on his no limit label. And on the other side of NOLA, the cash money label run by entrepreneur brothers Brian and Ronald Williams, a.k.a. Birdman and Slim, was minting platinum with rappers like Juvonen when albums by Master P and Juvenile went quadruple platinum in 1998 and 99. It affirmed the potency of Southern Hip-Hop. These were sales levels not even Outcaste had seen over in Atlanta, Andre and Big Boy knew they needed to up their game. So in 2000, they went back into the studio and emerged with a new benchmark for speed.
S2: B o b bombs over Baghdad has been acclaimed as one of the most dazzling singles in rap history, running at a frenetic 155 beats per minute. The song was Outcasts attempt to synthesize the rhythms of the British dance music known as Drum and Bass, which had been blasting in UK clubs throughout the second half of the 1990s.
S15: One that made B OBE perhaps the most exceptional outcast single.
S3: The famously laid back hip hop duo were suddenly rapping like they had mainlined extra strength. Red Bull.
S2: Critics called it seminal and prophetic. The Village Voice dubbed it, quote, just about the damnedest bass track ever, an electro workout, unquote. Years later, Pitchfork named it the best single of the 2000s, calling Boby, quote, an obliteration of the boundaries separating hip hop metal and electric. Setting the stage for a decade of dance rock crossover, unquote.
S3: Perhaps because it was so cutting edge and possibly because its titular phrase bombs over Baghdad was controversial on the radio even years before the second Persian Gulf War. B Oby was not a big chart hit. It only reached number 69 on the R&D songs chart and missed the hot 100 entirely. But two months ahead of Outcasts next album, its signal that Big Boy and Andre, who by the way, was now for the first time calling himself Andre 3000, were on some next level shit.
S6: They would call that album Stankonia. And it arrived in November with one of the coolest album cover photos ever. Big Boy and Andre 3000 in front of an all black American flag. Dre flexing his hands at the camera.
S2: The album debuted to more than half a million in sales in its first week, debuting yet again at number two.
S3: If it hadn’t come out the same week as Jay Z’s latest C.D., the Dynasty Stankonia would have been an easy number one.
S6: The album was outcasts, biggest and most sonically expansive to date, incorporating elements of funk, psychedelia, gospel, rock and club music all fused with hip hop.
S2: Amazingly, it also contained outcasts. First blockbuster pop singer. To date, Outcaste had yet to score a chart topping pop or RMV hit, Miss Jackson changed that, topping both the Hot 100 and the R and B chart in the winter of 2001. Contrary to initial belief, Ms.
S3: Jackson was not about Miss Janet Jackson, although when playing the song Live as a Tease, Outcaste would have their deejay drop in a line from Janet’s 1986 hit, Nasty Baby.
S6: Instead, the song was indirectly about another famous female singer, Erica Badu, whom Andre had dated for several years and who’d had her first child with him. However, the song was not dedicated to Badu, but rather to her mother, with whom Dre had reportedly had an altercation, as he says right at the start of the song.
S2: The song is an apology for letting down the mother of the mother of your child, as specific as this scenario sounds. It was the most culturally relatable and outcast song had ever been a meme, if you will. Before The Age of Meems. And it was wickedly catchy. In a clever touch in a song about a man who refuses to settle down, Outcaste included a recurring piano line that they borrowed from opera composer Richard Rovner’s famed Bridal Chorus, a.k.a. The Wedding March.
S6: By the time Ms. Jackson topped the Hot 100 in February 2001, Stankonia was already triple platinum, their biggest selling album to date, on its way to eventual sales of four million. It also inaugurated a period for Outcaste, where the singles became ever more melodic on the number 30 pop number 10 R and B hit so fresh, so clean. For example, Outcaste rapped over an irresistible chanting chorus sung by organized noise members.
S3: Sleepy Brown and Rico weighed. Then later in 2001, the number 19 pop number eight R and B hit the whole world. A new single added to Outcasts First ever Greatest Hits album was built on a bouncy chorus sung by Andre with Dungeon Family singer Joy.
S9: I think the whole world.
S3: Also featured bars from fellow Atlanta rapper Killer Mike. Yet another victory lap for hip hop from the 80s out by the early aughts. Atlanta was now widely acknowledged as the capital of hip hop, spinning off a constellation of rappers from the big voiced Ludacris to king of Crunk Lil Jon.
S2: Two Rising Atlanta trap music kingpin T..
S3: And across the south, other platinum rappers were picking up the ball from Outcast Organized Noise and the Dungeon Family, particularly their combination of generous pop melodies with percolating hip hop, such as the pride of St. Louis.
S3: And yet, even as rap was spreading across the south and coming to dominate Atlanta, Big Boy and especially Andre Benjamin were turning their ears increasingly away from hip hop.
S6: They were still a group, but their musical interests were diverging. Big boy, going deeper into brassy R and B and Dirty S Funk and Dre toward jazz pop standards, even alternative rock. Their next album, marketed and sold as an outcast album, would be in reality two solo discs, one by each man paired as a double C, D, Dre and Big Boy would continue to contribute to each other’s work. But each disc would be the clear vision of one half of the duo. Big boy had a reputation as outcasts, more rap centric member. But Antoine had wider interests in later interviews. Big Boy would cite iconoclastic British singer songwriter Kate Bush as one of his all time favorites and biggest sonic influences.
S16: And make a small.
S3: Her ethereal work would find its way into the more cerebral material. Big Boy was working on for Outcasts next album. But overwhelmingly, it was Andre who wanted to move far away from rap. He began adapting techniques he picked up from punk, new wave and indie rock. Indeed, the song that would ultimately become outcasts biggest hit ever was arguably not rap at all. Some of the influences Dre would later cite for this song included the Smiths.
S17: The Buzzcocks.
S2: And a new early 2000s garage rock band from Sweden called the Hymes. Andre fused all of these influences into a song he composed on acoustic guitar, strumming, catchy power pop anthem.
S6: On the surface, it sounded like a big party, but its verse lyrics were secretly heartfelt. A meditation on the meaning of love, quote, separates always better when there’s feelings involved. Dre sang, You know what they say. Nothing lasts forever. Then what makes love the exception? Unquote. Even with these contemplative lyrics, however, Andre gave his pop masterpiece and Ebullience title complete with an exclamation point. He called it.
S2: Hey Ya later named by this very magazine Slate as the number one song in the new American Songbook of the 21st Century. Hey, ya crossed every boundary in music. If you have attended a wedding in the last 15 years, there’s a good chance you’ve danced to Haigha. It’s bridge chance alone. The closest thing to pure hip hop in the song is made for celebration. But Hillyard was not the only lead off track for the new album. Much like the project itself in which outcasts two members worked in parallel. The Dre song was issued to radio and music stores alongside a big boy song.
S3: In essence, a double a. sided single and big boys. Half of the single was the catchiest thing Antoine had ever produced. A horn inflected funk love song. Its infectious chorus sung by Sleepy Brown called The Way You Muezzins.
S2: Although both tracks were officially credited to Outcaste, in reality, Big Boy and Andre were going head to head on the charts. And what is now forgotten in pop history was that Big Boys single was the bigger hit. First, The Way You Move debuted on the Hot 100 in September 2003.
S3: Three weeks ahead of Haigha and the way you move scaled the chart faster, reaching the top 10 in early November. While Hagar was still at number 15 hands off, he said he had to be Big Three in his name. Again, the game was over. Meanwhile, on the album chart, Outcast issued their new two C.D. set in late September, and it was their first not to have a portmanteau word as its title after Southern Player listed 80 Elías acquirement I and Stankonia.
S2: In fact, the album essentially had two titles and one with a slash in the middle speaker box slash the Love Blow. That title reflected its creation and its reality as a pair of solo albums fused together Big Boys Speaker Box with Andre’s The Love Below Cleverly Arista Records outcasts distributing label price to the two disc set so that retailers could discount it at about the price of a single C.D.. This further encouraged the public to regard the new album as an extra long single Outcast album.
S3: This tactic worked. In October 2003, Speaker Box The Love Below became outcasts first and only number one album on the Billboard 200 album chart like Stankonia Speaker Box.
S6: The love below opened to more than half a million in first week sales. But the chart fireworks for the album and the implied competition between Dre and Big Boy was only beginning.
S2: Both the way you move and Hey Ya were lodged in the top 20 on the hot 100 by November. If Big Boys Track had been the only lead off single to Outcasts new album, it might well have topped the Hot 100 on its own. We’ll never know. But just before Thanksgiving, Big Boys song was overtaken on the Hot 100 by drays as Hey Yo became the most added song at U.S. radio and pole vaulted on the hot 100 from number 13 into the top five.
S3: Three weeks later, a fortnight before Christmas 2003. Hey, ya, topped the hot 100.
S6: Interestingly, when hey, I reached number one, it knocked out a chart topper from fellow Atlanta recording artist Ludacris. His number one hit. Stand up.
S3: The contrast could not have been more stark. Luda was the sound of contemporary of the moment. Atlanta hip hop outcasts. Andre was pulling away from hip hop entirely in Billboard. Hey Ya was a multi genre juggernaut, making appearances across the magazines Pop R and B, adult alternative rock and even Latin shows.
S4: Yeah, it is.
S2: But that was not the end of the story of the Dre vs. Big Boy chart competition for eight of the nine weeks that Hey Y’all was number one on the hot 100.
S6: The way you move was right behind it. Sitting patiently at number two, finally, in February 2004, in its 21st week on the chart, the overtook Hey Ya rising to number one as Big Boy ejected his longtime partner and friend Andre.
S3: Some chart trivia outcaste became only the fifth act to replace themselves. At number one, they followed Elvis Presley, the Beatles, Boyz to Men and Nelly when we include two other acts who succeeded themselves in featured roles. Puff Daddy and J.R. Rule Outcaste were the seventh act to achieve this feat.
S6: Outcast also set a new record for the longest wait by a song at number two before rising to number one. Of course, the song that had held their hit back for a record eight weeks had been another song by Outcast. Outcast were officially the biggest act on the Billboard charts, as if their week couldn’t get any better. Just days later, Andre Benjamin and Antoine Payton traveled to Los Angeles to attend the 40 sixth annual Grammy Awards where this happened and the Grammy goes to.
S18: Speaker about the love.
S6: By winning the Grammy for Album of the year, Outcast entered rarefied company, only one other hip hop album period had ever won the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. Top prize. Five years earlier, it had been taken by the miseducation of Lauryn Hill.
S3: And to this day, 16 years later, these two titles remain the only hip hop albums to win the Grammy for Album of the year. And neither one is entirely a rap album. Lauryn Hill sings as much as she raps on the great miseducation.
S6: As for Speaker Box, The Love below, which, by the way, did top many critics polls as the best album of 2003. Clearly, the recording academy was dazzled by the album’s musical breadth from the jangle rock of Hey Ya to the sweet soul of the way you move to the funk rock of the follow up single.
S2: The Top 10 Hit Roses. Two Big Boys. Electro Pop Jam, Ghetto Music. Or Andre’s ethereal guitar ballad prototype.
S3: The album even featured a duet between Andre and Grammy queen Norah Jones, who had taken album of the year herself just two years earlier. The hard fact remains that the recording academy in its top category prefers rap albums with little rap on them.
S6: Outcaste had, however, inadvertently produced an ideal Grammy album to be sure they were ebullience as they took the stage at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. They thanked L.A. Reid profusely for sticking by them and their quirky choices. But then Andre took the microphone and like his moment at the source awards, his joy was tinged with just a little resentment this time toward new fans who he felt didn’t understand. Outcast? Yes.
S19: Stand down. Since our first album is the play, I listen when people thought our first album was Stankonia Stankonia. It’s not our first album due to history. We love y’all. Thank you very much. Southern playlist account like. Thank you.
S14: Thank you. Thank you very much. You smell good.
S6: The 2004 Grammys was the pinnacle of outcasts career and also a tough act to follow. As Andre’s speech indicated, the cracks were starting to show like our recent hit parade subject. Billy Joel, who also won Album of the year at the Grammys and a few years later quit pop recording entirely after one final number one album, Outcast were just about ready to hang it up. Speaker Box. The Love Blow would be their last regular studio album, although not their last album period. At this Imperial High point, with the cultural capital to greenlight any project, they chose Andre and Big Boy elected to go out. By fulfilling a longtime dream and outcast.
S2: Idlewild was outcasts, reimagining of Great Depression era movie musicals for the hip hop hero Andre and Big Boy played Percival and Rooster, respectively. A pair of juke joint performers in a fantastical Georgia town called Idlewild in 1935.
S3: Other performers in the movie included such acclaimed black actors as Terrence Howard, Cicely Tyson and Ben Vereen, and the film featured dazzling dance sequences and songs by Outcast that evoked big band music from the era of Cab Calloway.
S2: On one track, the single Morris Brown, they even evoked historical black college sounds of the marching band.
S4: Whether you like it or not, he’s back to a double six released in the late summer of 2006.
S2: Idlewild. The movie did decently, earning back its 10 million dollar budget worldwide. But reviews were mixed at best, and it was in and out of theaters in a couple of weeks. It was a similar story for the soundtrack, really, a companion album and officially outcasts. Last C.D. It shipped in platinum quantities and debuted at number two on the Billboard chart on the strength of pent up demand for new outcaste music. But Idlewild was off the Billboard 200 in less than three months. The shortest chart run of any Outcast album and reviews were respectful but leaned negative. Critics called the album overlong and unfocused.
S4: Doughboys in the Cat Legba can win the Grammys.
S3: It was a muted finale for one of the most artistically daring careers in hip hop history.
S6: And if Outcast with Idlewild didn’t exactly go out on top, they definitely went out on their own terms as they had their entire career with their legacy secure for the next decade and a half. The charts were awash in music that owed Outcast a debt of gratitude.
S2: Whether it was other Atlanta rappers who had Dre and Big Boy to thank for creating the scene, they now thrived in life. I.
S3: Or outcasts, collaborators like their Dungeon Family friend Cee Lo Green. He teamed up with producer Brian Danger Mouse Burton to form the duo Gnarls Barkley, and they recorded one of the biggest and most acclaimed singles of the aughts like Heya, Gnarls Barkley’s number two hit Crazy straddled multiple post hip hop genres all at once.
S2: As for Andre 3000 and Big Boy, even though they never recorded another outcaste album, they have produced plenty of new music.
S3: But at irregular intervals and rarely together. For fans of outcasts rapping particularly drays, given his abandonment of rap during the early aughts, the highlight of the decade may have been their guest appearance on a remix from Houston rappers You G.K.
S6: So I tried to take to the girl. I used to see that ourselves to to try me my way.
S20: And I apologize if this message gets you down. I see it.
S2: Every girl that’s around town and Yuchi Kayes 2007 Single International Players Anthem I Choose You was one of the most acclaimed tracks of the decade. Both Dre and Big Boy threw down some of their best bars and they even made jovial appearances in the song’s music video play acting and imaginary Andre 3000. And Ready. When I see. For his part, Big Boy has issued three solo albums, all of which have earned modest sales but very strong critical acclaim, most especially his 2010 solo debut.
S3: Sir Luscious Left Foot, which made many year end best album lists and spawned the minor hit schedule.
S20: Oh, you see, you got to run. Something has got to you.
S3: And Andre 3000 appearances by him are still newsworthy affairs, though it is anyone’s guess when or where he will turn up. Dre has yet to produce an official solo album, but he has guested on more than two dozen original and remixed tracks since Outcasts hiatus, including hits by rapper Rich Boy R and B singer Lloyd who change.
S2: I’m your number one fan belt and I don’t wanna use the voice microphone and none other than Pop Diddy Beyonce on her 2012 hit same 3000 degrees.
S4: We’re about to begin, though.
S3: Whatever they were about me under his birth name of Andre Benjamin. He has also acted in several films, including the starring role in the 2014 biopic Jimi All Is By My Side, in which Benjamin earned plaudits for his uncanny portrayal of guitar legend Jimi Hendrix.
S21: Do you really want to change things when the power love takes over the of power? That’s one thing to change.
S3: Now, in his 40s, Andre 3000 will still show up for an occasional guest appearance on a song as recently as 2019. He made a cameo on the latest album by singer rapper Anderson Park.
S13: You need me on my knees now. My Leehom. I need Baba Amr on my nerves. Steady. What do you double?
S3: But Dre and Big Boys Stronger Legacy is on Southern Rap. In January, while cities from Chicago to Toronto have staked their claim as hotbeds of hip hop, it is still widely taken for granted that many rap movements bubble up from Atlanta from the likes of future.
S5: And Migas, I don’t know why politics coming to you.
S3: It’s the legacy that Andre and Big Boy are rightfully proud of all these years after they stepped away from the outcast spotlight.
S6: It’s a legacy that they sought to burnish in 2014 when they briefly reunited to tour as outcast. And the highlight of that tour was when they headlined the blockbuster Coachella Music Festival live from the stage in Indio, California. Big Boy echoed his partner at the 2004 Grammys when he shouted out the fans who truly remembered Outcast from back in the day.
S2: As heads nodded along to Players Ball, the holiday single Outcast dropped back in 1993 for just a moment. Coachella. Felt a little like the 80s el on Christmas Day.
S3: I hope you enjoyed this episode of Hit Parade. Our show was written, edited and narrated by Chris M.A.. That’s me. My producer for this episode was Benjamin Fresh, and we also had help from Rosemary Bellson. June Thomas is the senior managing producer, and Gabriel Roth, the editorial director of Slate podcasts. Check out their roster of shows at Slate dot com slash podcasts. Thanks for listening.
S2: And I look forward to leading the hit parade back your way. Until then, keep on marching on the wire. I’m Chris Mowlam.